Outdoor music festivals are a summer ritual, and these local favorites will strike a chord with all music lovers – whether they’re into folk and pop or blues and rock.
Dawson City Music Festival, Yukon
When: July 15–17, 2011
Liner notes: This indie festival has attracted Canadian musical legends – including Bruce Cockburn, Barenaked Ladies and Buffy Sainte-Marie – and turned Dawson City into a northern arts mecca. This year, Weakerthans frontman John K. Samson and performer-wife Christine Fellows are songwriters-in-residence; Tanya Tagaq, an Inuit throat singer who’s collaborated with Björk, is a headliner.
Playlist: Pop, troubadour folk, rock
Bonus track: Take a break from the mainstage with a visit to Jack London’s Gold Rush-era log cabin.
Hillside Festival, Ontario
When: July 22–24, 2011
Liner notes: This family-friendly fest on Guelph Lake Island, about two hours from Toronto, might be known for its folksy vibe (it started as a neighborhood get-together), but you’ll find much more than music: Spoken-word and children’s performances are held on five stages. Last year, Hillside was voted the best music festival in Canada by CBC Radio 3 listeners.
Playlist: Folk, folk and more folk, with a bit of pop thrown in
Bonus track: Hillside’s mainstage has a green roof, and the festival, which is held in a conservation area, has a Green Fund to help reduce its environmental footprint.
Osheaga Music and Arts Festival, Montreal
When: July 27–31, 2011
Liner notes: Held on the site of Expo 67, this relative newcomer draws Top 40 acts like Arcade Fire and Coldplay. Osheaga’s name comes from the Mohawk who met Jacques Cartier’s party near the Lachine Rapids and called them “O she ha ga,” or “people of shaking hands.” Today the name is synonymous with great rock: Death Cab for Cutie and The Flaming Lips are headliners this year.
Playlist: Alt-rock, electronica, pop
Bonus track: The Osheaga in the City pre-festival offers concerts at venues throughout Montreal.
Edmonton Folk Music Festival, Alberta
When: August 4–7, 2011
Liner notes: Feist, Keb’ Mo’ and Roseanne Cash have played this veteran festival. On the bill this year: Grammy Award-winning singer Angélique Kidjo, Canadian bluesman Matt Anderson and self-described “folkabilly” artist Nanci Griffith.
Playlist: A musical mash-up of pop, folk, rock and blues
Bonus track: Stick around for the celebrated Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival.